Valerie Mary Payne
1935 - 2009
Valerie Payne, who died on 28th April, was a member of the Middlesex County Association and London Diocesan Guild for 35 years, and its Librarian for nearly 25 years. She also made an index of more than 29,000 names on peal boards in the MCA area; and with the help of many members embarked on a survey of all the bells, ringable and unringable, in the Middlesex area. This was uncompleted at the time of her death.
Valerie was first and foremost a family person, as the loving tribute of her two daughters, Linda and Janet, made clear in the eulogy at her funeral in St Mary’s, Northolt, on 7th May. She was born and grew up in Hanwell, a member of a close and supportive family. She married Tom in 1959, and they settled in Northolt: this July would have seen their Golden Wedding anniversary.
A great interest of hers was family history, and it was while visiting family-tree records at Winkfield in Berkshire that she, Tom and the two girls first heard bells ringing – and thought that they were a recording. They went into the tower, and were hooked. In 1975 they began learning at Hayes, taught by Percy Venn, ringing there on Sundays, and then at Norwood Green, and sometimes at Heston or Cranford as well.
Valerie was tower captain at Norwood Green for 27 years (in the words of one Norwood Green ringer, she was “fine-spirited and strict, a tower captain who knew what she was up to and kept everyone in good order”); and the bells there were close to her heart. She enjoyed organising ringing outings, which often featured banners with the various churches’ names on them, duly held aloft in front of the church for group photos.
Pealbase records show that she rang 25 peals, her first in 1979 and her last in 1994. Among them was a peal of Cambridge S. Minor at Norwood Green in 1988, to which she rang the treble, in a band made up of MCA officers. She commemorated this with a peal board that she worked in cross-stitch – another of her creative pastimes.
It is hoped to place Valerie’s index of the ringers on peal boards in the MCA area where members of the public, researching their own genealogies, can have access to it. While working on the index, she discovered that an ancestor of her own was a ringer, and is named on a peal board at St Giles-in-the-Fields, Holborn, which is the headquarters of the MCA. He was Henry Symondson, her great-great-great-grandfather, and on 22nd May 1799 he rang there in a peal thought to be the first true composition of Stedman Triples, though it was called from outside the circle. One of the last quarter peals Valerie rang was of Stedman Triples at St Giles-in-the-Fields, in June 2007.
For nearly 25 years Valerie was the Librarian of the MCA, a job she enjoyed and into which she put a great deal of work. She held the post until her death. She was a committed member of the church at Northolt, and her deeply held faith kept her going during hard times, such as Tom’s last illness. He died in 2001. Valerie, with her warm and ready smile, and her fund of good sense, will be greatly missed by her family and many friends.